Join our No Woman No Cry Mother's Day Party

04.29.11: To raise awareness and childbirth survival rates


Does anyone want to join Christy Turlington Burns, Oprah, CARE and me for a great big Mother’s Day party? It’ll be a casual affair - just dinner and a movie with friends on Saturday May 7th. We’ll gather early for drinks and a potluck (I’m thinking mac and cheese) while we listen to some music (Every Mother Counts – a Starbucks compilation CD that includes performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, The Dixie Chicks, Martha Wainright, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and a stellar collection of other mothers). Then we’ll settle onto the couch to watch No Woman, No Cry – the television broadcast premiere of Christy’s kick-ass documentary about maternal health challenges around the world - here in the United States and abroad.

I’ll be watching at my friend Desiree’s house (she gets the Oprah Winfrey Network on satellite TV). Desiree is an obstetrician I’ve worked with for years and we’re inviting our friends –doctors, nurses, journalists, mortgage brokers, attorneys, students, artists, hairdressers, waitresses, mothers and fathers. Some are already well invested in improving the status of maternal health. Others are looking for ways to get involved. Some just want to hang out, eat and watch TV with us. That’s cool. Everyone’s welcome and we’re inviting you to join us by hosting your own viewing parties. Showtimes are listed here and if Saturday night isn’t good for you, they’ll rebroadcast it on Sunday – Mother’s Day.

Christy and I have worked together before and share a passion for the Mamas in the world. I saw an early viewing of Christy’s documentary at a CARE conference last year that moved me to tears. You wouldn’t think after all these years and all those deliveries I’d well up over one more birth movie. Alas, Christy’s movie made my mascara run, which isn’t entirely cool considering how good she looks in hers. If anything, my years as a labor nurse have made me more sensitive about mothers trying to survive their deliveries; whether they’re in American delivery rooms or some part of the world.

Christy’s film brings this struggle to light with four personal stories from four corners of the world, Tanzania, Bangladesh, Guatemala and the Unites States. It’s not preachy or pitiful – it’s powerful and beautiful. Watch it, but wear your waterproof - you’ll cry too.

I really appreciate that the film includes US maternal health struggles. When we hear statistics like this: 1000 women die every day from pregnancy and childbirth related emergencies – we think these women live somewhere out there – Africa, India or some country where there aren’t any hospitals, water and medicines. Many of those deaths, however, happen right here at home. The US isn’t doing such a rockin’ hot job of protecting our own mothers. In fact, maternal mortality is on the rise. Check out this article about California’s dramatic increase in maternal deaths, especially among African American mothers.

California is a reflection of what’s happening all over the country. African American women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Why? The reasons why women die having babies are the same all over the world no matter what their race or ethnicity is. Mothers die from:

• Pregnancy induce hypertension,

• Embolism,

• Infection and

• Blood loss.

Sometimes they die because they can’t get medical care and sometimes because they receive sloppy care. Maternal emergencies are almost always related to poor access to health care, obesity, poverty, diabetes, lack of education, hypertension, lack of insurance, limited supplies and transportation, lack of trained health care workers, poor delivery conditions, too many unnecessary interventions (including c-sections) etc., etc. It doesn’t matter whether that mother lives in New York City or Bangladesh – the emergencies are the same.

The difference is, here in the US where we have more resources than we know what to do with. There’s no excuse for it. In other parts of the world where resources are slim to none, they’re making huge progress. Check out this story in The Lancet about the one-year anniversary of Sierra Leone’s healthcare initiative that’s providing free health care to all pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under five. They started from nothing (Sierra Leone was about the worst place on earth for surviving childbirth) and making maternal health a priority.

Christy’s passion for improving mothers’ odds of surviving childbirth started with her own childbirth complication. I’ll talk to her next week (and blog about it) about her own childbirth emergency, her documentary and about Every Mother Counts - her advocacy and mobilization campaign to increase education and support for maternal and child health. Christy invites you to log on to Every Mother Counts, find the Count Me In tab and share your own story about your journey to motherhood.

Join our international Mother’s Day Party and watch No Woman No Cry on OWN with your own friends. Stop by your local Starbucks and pick up the Every Mother Counts CD too. Part of the proceeds support CARE’s maternal health programs. Of course, you can make a donation to promote CARE’s work on their website too. Then whip up some macaroni and cheese and settle down on the couch with mothers all over the world. Check back next week for my Mother’s Day chat with Christy Turlington Burns.

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

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